HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he’d share with his team’s fans the recruiting video the team produced to woo Dwight Howard during their face-to-face free-agent meeting a month ago, and now he has.
On his blogmaverick.com, Cuban wrote more than 3,000 words explaining his personnel decisions of the last three seasons, from dismantling the 2011 title team to why he insists trading franchise rock Dirk Nowitzki is not an option. He offers opinions on the collective bargaining agreement and differing approaches to team-building, how Dwight would have fit in Dallas and the club’s high-profile free-agent misses these last two summers.
Embedded in Cuban’s missive is the two-minute, eight-second, comic-book style video that he, coach Rick Carlisle, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and Nowitzki showed to Howard while meeting in Los Angeles. The video takes Dwight back to his infancy, a baby delivered from the stars, “a hero and future MVP” to a loving mother and father in 1985 Atlanta. Howard grows from “humble beginnings,” his path to greatness “defined by effort and commitment.” The animated Howard is then shown succeeding in a Mavs uniform, fueled by “his burning desire to win” and having “fun doing it.” He embraces “new allies” (Nowitzki) and “new ideas” (from Carlisle) to become “the most dominant center of all time.” Howard and Cuban are then shown lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. A 2014 and 2015 championship banners hang next to the franchise’s lone title in 2011. And finally the video states, “Being a Maverick doesn’t end with the Hall of Fame,” as Howard is shown wearing a Superman cape, “Being a Maverick ends with… Global domination.”
In the end, Howard apparently believed taking over the world could be accomplished quicker as a member of the Houston Rockets.
Here’s a sampling of Cuban’s takes:
On not trading Dirk: “Our culture is one of the reasons I won’t trade Dirk. When you turn your team upside down and try to figure out what the culture of the team is, you take the greatest risk a team can take. Dirk sets the tone for our team. He works as hard, if not harder than anyone. He helps our younger players understand what he expects and what they need to do to excel. On the court he is selfless. He would rather not have to score a point if we would win the game any way. He would rather pass the ball and let anyone else score than be forced to take the shot. Until its the time of the game where we need a point. Then he is ready to step up as often as we need it. But he knows, that his impact on a game is far more important than any averages or what appears in the box score. That mindset. That selflessness. His work ethic is something I want to be in place long after he has retired. But to do that we have to transition with him, not in a void.”
On Dwight fitting with Mavs: “Let me address here the inevitable question of Dwight vs Mavs culture. We saw it as somewhat of a risk, but felt like because Dwight by all appearances and checking we did, is a good guy and with our support systems we believed we could make it work. if not, he was obviously a very trade-able asset. But, as everyone knows, we didn’t sign him. He went to the Rockets. I do have to say the meeting with Dwight was very interesting. He is a smart guy. Much smarter than people give him credit for. He is also a very, very good listener. Unlike most people, he spent far more time listening than talking. And he had the best response to an opening question that I have ever heard from a player, or anyone for that matter. When we asked him what his goal was, his response was very specific ” I want to be Epic” . Which was a perfect lead in to the video we created for him. Would i do it the same way again ? In a heartbeat. Why ? Because in the NBA, like in the non-sports business world, you have to take chances in order to be rewarded. You have to be smart and you have to be more than a little lucky.”
On team-building strategy under today’s CBA: “What I do know, at least what I think i have learned from my experiences in business is that when there is a rush for everyone to do the same thing, it becomes more difficult to do . Not easier. Harder. It also means that as other teams follow their lead, it creates opportunities for those who have followed a different path.
I see quite a few teams taking what appears to be the same approach to building a team. I can understand why they are taking this approach. In the current CBA the value of a player chosen in the draft can be considerable because of the defined contract terms. And if you put together some great young players, it is very enticing to want to keep those players together for a long period.
But I also know that even if you have the worst record in the NBA, you may not get the top pick and even if you do, there is a material chance you pick the wrong player , or it just happens to be a draft when there are not any IDENTIFIABLE superstar potential players at the top of the draft.
In other words, while it may be popular, I think the quantity of teams taking the same approach makes it more difficult to build a team in this manner.”